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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Welly 1:24 2003 Cadillac Escalade EXT and Jada Toys 1:24 2001 Chevrolet Avalanche





One of the niftiest tricks in the 2000's was the midgate system in the Chevrolet Avalanche and Cadillac Escalade EXT.  What it does is transforms a five-passenger SUV with a pickup bed into a full-fled long bed pickup truck.  The rear seat tumbles forward like a typical SUV does, and then the rear bulkhead comes down and lays flat with the back of the seat to extend the bed's more useful length.  The rear window can be popped out and placed into the inside of the rear bulkhead to get the full use out of the extended cargo area.  When not in use the bulkhead, window, and rear seat go back in place for a five-passenger SUV layout.  Problem is, despite a few nice replica's of the Avalanche none have the folding midgate design, including Welly, but Jada Toys managed to make one with a folding midgate.  However, Jada's version of the Cadillac Escalade EXT does not have this feature, so on a Welly version of the Escalade EXT i created my own midgate system.








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Jada Toys 2001 Chevrolet Avalanche

Jada is known for Dub City cars that really set off the brand in the 2000's, and one of their first members were custom Chevy Trucks with rims.  Before that Jada Toys contracted to make the Chevrolet trucks in stock format way before Dub came along, and this is where this blue Avalanche comes from.  The coolest part about this casting is the working midgate system: with your finger flick the rear switch on the back of the bed down to pull the window down, then under the truck flick the switch back to cause the rear bottom seat to flip up and the back of the rear seat to fold flat.  When doing the reverse the switch is flicked up to tumble the seat and bulkhead back and then roll the rear window up by sliding the switch up.  It's an effective and neat trick!  The downside is that Jada Toys forgoes the three removable tonneau cover panels that Welly offers in their Avalanche.










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This is based on the 2000 show truck as evident by the roof rack with lights (this used to have cross bars on the rack but since one was broke and pulling one side of the rack off I had both removed before gluing the rack back down).  At the front is a large chrome bar with bowtie logo that goes across the grille and headlights below with signal lights above.  The lower gray bumper has the tow hooks and foglights with flared out lamps that are the daytime running lights.  The sides show off the gray cladding with Avalanche on the front doors, folding exterior mirrors, flared fenders, Z71 on the rear fenders, and the rear flying buttress to support the bed and roof along with tool boxes in the bed fenders.   In the rear the taillights are large and V-shaped, tailgate with CHEVROLET stamped into the metal, Avalanche just below, and a rear bumper with side corner steps and trailer hitch package.  The tailgate opens to the converting bed with a composite floor and tread tracks for ATV's.









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As the base shows the rest of the truck is actually based on a Suburban and not the Silverado pickup, so it uses the coil springs on the rear axle along with part-time two-speed transfer case with auto 4-wheel drive engagement, front torsion bars and lower A-arms, and ladder frame.  Details look good here even though the truck sits too low (precursor to the Dub series?).  The hood opens up to a dark engine bay where the 5.3L V8 sits.  You can see the intake, air cleaner housing, battery, and cooland resovoir but after that it's just a flat engine pan piece.  The V8 motor produces 290 horsepower through a 4-speed automatic transmission.  The front doors open to a coal black interior with seating for five in a typical GM truck layout.  The driver and passenger seat have intergrated seatbelts in them and sit beside a center console that has a very silly shifter layout (on the real truck the transmission shifter is column-mounted and the four-wheel drive system is a row of buttons to the left of the gauges).  The dashboard has the familiar layout with 4-spoke steering wheel, lack of any detailed gauges, and stereo and HVAC controls in easy reach.  While it is the only production diecast version of the Avalanche with an operating midgate system it could use some finer detailing in a few places.  This is where the Escalade comes in.





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Welly 1:24 2003 Cadillac Escalade EXT

Following the success of the Avalanche and Lincoln's entry into the truck market with the Blackwood Cadillac offered the Escalade with the Avalanche features as the EXT (the ESV was the longer Suburban-based Escalade).  With it comes better interior features, unique styling, and that functional midgate system.  Both the Avalanche and EXT were good enough to go into a second-generation, but falling truck sales manage to axe both of them after the second-generation.  Welly has already done the 2002 Escalade SUV and has the 2001 Avalanche so merging the two should not be a problem.  The hood does not open but underneath is a more powerful 6.0L V8 that produces 345 horsepower through a 4-speed automatic transmission and a four-wheel drive system that is full-time.  Also offered was air springs as an option.









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This pear white EXT with beige interior looks like a proper Cadillac and looks better and well-formed than the Jada Escalade.  For starters the stance is proper and has the 8-spoke Cadillac chrome rims as opposed to the lower stance with low-profile tires on stock 5-spoke wheels in the Avalanche.  Execution is better than the flared-out wheels of the Welly Avalanche as well.  The front has larger headlights with HID lamps, a large chrome grille with the Cadillac badge (mines went missing for no apparent reason), and a lower body-colored bumper with tow hooks and foglights.  The side profile is cleaner with toned down fender flares, body-colored lower trim, exterior mirrors with body-colored covers, and lower running boards.  The roof rack is cleaner and has body-colored end caps, the rear flying buttress and tool boxes are body-colored, and there's a large third brake light across the back of the buttress.  At the back the V-shaped taillights are smoother and slightly reduced, the tailgate smoother with a spoiler on top, and a revised rear bumper that does not round out the corners, loses the side steps, but gains back up sensors and a trailer hitch package.










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The bed area has a nice touch with three gray hard tonneau cover panels that slide in and out with the tailgate open for a closed-in or open-end bed design.  It's a nifty piece that is shared with the Avalanche.  However, unlike the 1:18 scale Welly Avalanche the 1:24 scale make do with all three pieces coming off in one piece.  The bed area is the same composite area with tire tread pattern as the Avalanche, and like the Welly Avalanche's the rear midgate section does not work here.  Time for me to change that!  Getting the rear seat back to come loose is easy since it is secured by two tabs, so I broke them loose and added paper clip bits to make them longer and easily slide into the holes on the bottom cushion.  The back panel of the bed is easy to cut off and works well, but also I had to cut off the metal support brace for the body to finally get the midgate opening that I was looking for.  Then there was a few problems:  One, I wanted to get the rear window the slide up and down like the Jada Avalanche, but that idea wasn't cooperating with me so I masked off the C-shaped hole in the bed panel and ditched the rear window.  Second, I planned to keep the rear windows in the up position as-is, but how on earth was I going to remove and replace the rear seatback without any room to do so?  Well the rear window piece was tossed aside and now it has the all windows down look.  Once everything was working properly the results turned out pretty good aside from a few setbacks.  Not as clean as the Jada version, but still very useful.









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The chassis underneath shows off the detailed drivetrain and suspension components in which I added some more emphasis with a silver Sharpie.  Now inside the all-beige interior was improper and too-much so using a trick that I did with the Kinsmart Mazda RX7 in the past I used a black Sharpie to add the correct gray trim panels inside.  On the real truck the dashboard is mostly gray on the top part along with the steering column and the 4-spoke steering wheel, though I was careful to leave the wood trim on the top and bottom of the wheel.  The dashboard is similar to the Avalanche but with more silver trim accents and better gauges.  The center console has silver trim covers for the cupholders and storage area and an analog clock beside a CD player.  The door panels also have a dab of black and silver trim as well, while the seats front and rear are more posh than the Avalanche.



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The end result is a magnificient group of twins that both have working midgate systems.  The Chevrolet Avalance by Jada Toys is the sole company with the working midgate from the factory that works great even if the rest of the truck has some detail issues here and there.  While the Escalade EXT by Welly looks more polished, finished, luxurious, and now with a working midgate functional as well.


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